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Setting up Skype: How to get things startedcomment (0)

September 24, 2009


Setting up an account with Skype is easy, and the best part is that it is free!

Skype software downloads are available for PCs running Windows 2000, XP or Vista, as well as for Mac OS X and Linux, and require an Internet connection (broadband is best). Your computer should have speakers and a microphone and for video calls, a webcam.

To get started, go to skype.com. Click the download option, choose your operating system from the right-hand column and follow the on-screen instructions for setup. Within minutes (or seconds, depending on your connection speed), the software will download and install on your computer.

Once you set up your Skype account, you can make free Skype-to-Skype calls, as well as use other free services including instant messaging and video calls. Skype also offers call forwarding, voice mail and calling to non-Skype telephone numbers for a fee.

If you plan to use Skype to call landlines or cell phones, then you have two options. One option is to add Skype credit to your account for pay-as-you-go calls. Pay-as-you-go rates vary depending on the call destination but run as low as 2 cents per minute for U.S. calls and generally under $1 per minute for international calls.

The second option is to purchase a subscription plan. If you frequently call landline numbers, then a monthly subscription plan is probably the most economical choice. An unlimited United States and Canada calling plan, which allows unlimited calls to landlines and cell phones in those two countries, costs $2.95. For those who call one country frequently, an unlimited country plan is available, as is an unlimited world plan for landline calls to more than 40 countries. Taxes and rules apply so be sure to read the disclosures on the Web site.

To call someone who is on Skype, go to your contact list, find the person you want to talk to and click his or her name. The symbol next to the name will indicate whether the call is free. Click the green call button to start your call. To hang up, click the red end call button.

Additional tips from Skype:

• A headset can improve the sound quality of your calls.

• The better the webcam, the better the video picture.

• Use up-to-date software, especially anti-virus programs, and follow the same safety guidelines as with e-mail and other online services.

Finally Skype is not a replacement for your home telephone line since you cannot make emergency calls with the service. (TAB)

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